In Africa

In Africa

The GMO crisis in Swaziland

The GMO crisis in Swaziland

By Tsakasile Dlamini
Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (Pelum) Swaziland Country Coordinator
October 2017
Swaziland is under enormous pressure to introduce genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the country’s farming system. This pressure is coming not only from Monsanto but also from farmers and some sections of the public who have been fed a great deal of misinformation and hype by the pro-biotech machinery. The farmers, acting on incomplete and often unsubstantiated information, are pushing for the adoption of genetically modified (GM) cotton, in the hope that it will give them greater yields, while reducing the costs of production.

Currently, according to Swaziland’s legislation, to import GM products or live GMOs (seeds) one needs to apply for a permit; a lengthy process that requires evidence that the GMO in question is safe. However, it is an open secret that farmers are bringing GM cotton and maize seed into the country illegally from South Africa because they have been informed that GM-based farming is more cost effective. It is unfortunate that a majority of our cotton farmers are told disingenuously about the “great yields and benefits” of GM cotton and not about the dangers associated with this technology. There is a serious

Seed sovereignty for Peasant Farmers in Malawi blocked by emerging national seed policy

By Bright Thamie Phiri

September 2017
The government of Malawi is poised to adopt a draconian National Seed Policy that blocks peasant farmers’ opportunities to secure and strengthen farmer-managed seed systems (FMSS), and which would undermine farmers’ rights and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, to which Malawi is a Party.
An ad hoc stakeholder policy dialogue on the draft National Seed Policy held at the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters in Lilongwe (Malawi) on 07 September 2017 marginalised the voices of farmers and civil society at large. It dismissed out of hand concerns that have been made via various submissions and petitions. Civil society raised the following three key aspects: the omission of FMSS from the National Seed Policy framework, including the narrow scope of the definition of seed so as to exclude farmers’ varieties; the implications of aligning seed policy with harmonised regional seed trade regulatory systems under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA); and lack of recognition and protection of farmers’ rights.
The meeting advanced provisions in the policy framework that require standardisation and certification of seed varieties by mandating

MVIWATA and ACB Opposing Application for Field trials of Stacked GM Maize MON 87460 X MON 810

Monsanto_WEMA_Experimental_Plot_Ilonga_ARI

The Tanzania National Farmers Network Organisation, Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania (MVIWATA) and the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) are objecting to an application submitted by the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) for confined field trials of Monsanto’s stacked GM maize MON 87460 X MON 810 (GM drought tolerant stacked with throw-away and ineffective insect resistant technology).

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OPEN LETTER TO AFRICAN BIOSAFETY REGULATORS

OPEN LETTER TO AFRICAN BIOSAFETY REGULATORS

Do not allow Africans to be used as guinea pigs for untested high-risk new GM technology

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa calls for an immediate ban on the importation into South Africa of Monsanto’s high-risk second-generation gene-silencing genetically modified (GM) maize destined for human consumption. AFSA rejects and condemns US corporation Monsanto’s plan to exploit millions of Africans as unwitting human guinea pigs for their latest genetic engineering experiment. AFSA also condemns the IITA field trial application in Nigeria using this same risky technology to produce GM cassava for the agro-fuels industry.

These GM applications target staple foods of maize and cassava, eaten by many millions of Africans every day. Scientists have reported that the untested gene-silencing effect is able to cross over into mammals and humans, and affect their genetic makeup with unknown potential negative consequences, and have called for long-term animal testing and stronger regulation before this goes ahead.

In an open letter to African Biosafety Regulators AFSA demands that, while these risks remain, the introduction of this untested RNAi technology be unequivocally banned by all member states of the African Union. Regulators in South Africa and Nigeria are urged

RNA interference GMOs to enter South Africa and Nigeria

In this Alert, the ACB warns that the South African government received an application for the commodity clearance (import for food, feed and processing) of a ‘multi-stacked variety’ of genetically modified (GM) maize – MON87427 × MON89034 × MIR162 × MON87411, which represents the entry of the second generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in South Africa. Unlike standard first-generation GMOs, this GM maize variety utilises what is termed the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway. Such GMOs are the latest in the GM push on the wider African continent. Indeed, Nigeria has recently received an application for the field trials of a GM cassava variety that uses RNAi to reduce the amount of starch in cassava, with the purported aim of preventing starch breakdown during storage.

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The Water Efficient Maize for Africa Project: Profiteering not Philanthropy

This scoping study aims to appraise, to the best of our knowledge, the current status of the roll-out of a public- private partnership which forms the the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project in five African countries: Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The partnership is between the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Monsanto and the National Agricultural Research Agencies (NARs).

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The GM maize onslaught in Mozambique: Undermining biosafety and smallholder farmers

A new report from the ACB, “The GM maize onslaught in Mozambique: Undermining biosafety and smallholder farmers” written in conjunction with Acção Academicapara o Desenvolvimento das Comunidades Rurais (ADECRU) has been released today. It provides an analysis of the changes made to Mozambique’s biosafety legislation in order to allow for field trials of genetically modified (GM) maize to take place under the auspices of the Monsanto/Gates Foundation’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project. The WEMA project is currently pushing forward with field trials involving the highly controversial GM drought tolerant maize variety and old throw away Bt maize, MON810 that has caused massive pest infestation in SA.

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Objection to commercial release of MON87460 X NK603 X MON89034 (triple stacked involving drought tolerant maize trait)

In this objection, ACB raises numerous concerns with the application by Monsanto for the commercial release of the triple stacked event.

Drought tolerance is a highly complex genetic trait that cannot be addressed by single gene insertions, as shown by the lack of data backing up the applicant’s claim that this GM variety shows “improvements to yield under drought stress”. n 2016, the ACB also submitted an objectionto the extension of field trials, supported by a petition with over 20 00 signatures. In addition, 63 members of the public copied the objections they have submitted to the Registrar: GMO Act regarding these trials. Members of the public have similarly in respect to this application, signed a petition opposing these trials as well as 71 having submitted direct objections to the Registrar: GMO Act.

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